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Can you be punished for using marijuana out of state?

Marijuana laws have been changing across the country, with Colorado and Washington leading the charge as the first to allow recreational use. Many states have also adopted policies for medicinal use of the drug, including Texas.

As the rules grow more lax, what happens when a drug is legal across the border but not in state? Previous court rulings have said employers can test employees based on federal law. However, a recent hearing in Texas says that a teacher should not lose her license for using marijuana when visiting Colorado.

A closer look at the case

The district tested an experienced teacher after a coworker raised suspicions. The teacher admitted to occasional marijuana use and tested positive, noting use of a marijuana edible when visiting Colorado over winter break. Facing suspension, she instead resigned and sought legal help.

In January, an administrative law judge ruled that she should be reinstated because no laws were broken. The judge compared consuming marijuana in Colorado to gambling in Nevada: its legal use in another state does not apply to the state of Texas.

Marijuana use in Texas

Texas has a reputation for strict drug laws, including marijuana. Governor Greg Abbott has spoken against marijuana's legalization, though several bills were introduced early in this year's legislative session.

Because of the state's strict laws, facing drug charges can be frightening. There are many defenses against drug possession, including the manner of the arrest, how evidence was gathered, your level of cooperation and your criminal history.

While you may defend yourself in court, an experienced criminal defense attorney knows the variables of the law and understands how the Texas drug courts reach their decisions. The teacher case shows that attitudes are changing and that charges are not ironclad.

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